Kin of town's founder to be honored by Derek Schoen
When the city of Bishop, Calif, observes the 100th anniversary of its
founding this weekend, Palo Altan George Bishop will be in the foreground.
As the oldest living descendant of the town's founder, Samuel Bishop,
George is being given the red carpet treatment by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce.
George, Mrs. Bishop and their two sons, Samuel, 21, and Bill, 17, will
be feted at a special dinner Friday night and taken on an extensive tour of the
Inyo County community.
It will be the Palo Altan's first visit to the city which bears his
Now a city of about 3,000 population, Bishop is located 14 miles
northeast of Kings Canyon National Park near the California-Nevada border.
According to Chamber of Commerce literature forwarded to George, the city
considers itself the gateway to the park and is known as a mecca for those
who like outdoor sports.
Samuel Bishop founded the town in 1861 when he brought about 600 head
of cattle into Owens Valley from Ft. Tejon and settled along a creek that
still bears his name.
Other descendants of the town's founder are George Bishop's sister
and two brothers. They are Mrs. Ruth Suchorski of San Mateo, Fred Bishop of
1776 Park Boulevard, Palo Alto, and David Bishop of Monterey.
All members of the Bishop clan have been invited to attend this week's
celebration, but only George and his family will be able to make the trip, he said.
Although this will be their first visit to Bishop, Calif., members of
the George Bishop family are not unaware of the part the elder Bishop played
in the founding of California. Before his death in 1893, Samuel Bishop had
figured significantly not only in the history of Bishop, Calif., but also in
the history of Santa Clara County.
According to historical records uncovered in the Palo Alto Library by
members of the family, their grandfather's interests ranged from prospecting
during the gold rush of 1849 to installing the first streetcar tracks in the
city of San Jose.
He moved to San Jose in 1867 and quickly established himself as one
of Santa Clara County's foremost financiers. With six others, he started
the Santa Clara Horse Railroad. And in addition to being vice president of
the San Jose Savings Bank, he was co-owner of the San Jose Institute and
A company which he headed laid the first streetcar tracks in San
Jose in 1873.
Born in Albemarle County, VA in 1825, Samuel moved with his family to
Missouri 10 years later. After working as a farmer and wagon mechanic in
Missouri, he joined the gold rush in 1849.
His first visit to the Golden State was anything but smooth, according
to the history books. His wagon broke down at Ft. Yuma, Ariz., and he walked
700 miles to the Mariposa goldfields with a 100-pound pack on his back.
After mining gold with mediocre success, Bishop was drafted into an
army formed to fight off a challenge posed by Indians under the leadership
of Chief Yosemite. They finally captured the Indian leader in what is now
known as Yosemite National Park. The soldiers are believed to have been the
first white men ever to enter what is now the park area.
Bishop then went to work for a trading company and after several years
obtained a government land grant on which the U.S. Army built Ft. Tejon.
It was during this period that Bishop started ranching on a large
scale. Bishop, Calif., is the outgrowth of a trip north he made to establish
another ranch for his large herd.
The Army later abandoned Ft. Tejon and Bishop petitioned the legislature
to create a new county, with Ft. Tejon to serve as the county seat. Under
the terms of his land grant, all buildings in the abandoned fort reverted to
The legislature honored his petition, thus creating Kern County.
Ft. Tejon remained the county seat for only a short time, however, and Bishop
again pulled up stakes, this time traveling to San Jose, where his life
became entwined with the pioneer history of Santa Clara County.
Samuel Addison and Frances Ella (Young) Bishop Family